Hattie’s summer isn’t going as planned. Her two best friends have abandoned her: Reuben has run off to Europe to ‘find himself” and Kat is in Edinburgh with her new girlfriend. Meanwhile Hattie is stuck babysitting her twin siblings and dealing with endless drama around her mum’s wedding. Oh, and she’s also just discovered that she’s pregnant with Reuben’s baby…Then Gloria, Hattie’s great-aunt who no one even knew existed, comes crashing into her life. Gloria’s fiercely independent, rather too fond of a gin sling and is in the early stages of dementia. Together the two of them set out on a road trip of self-discovery – Gloria to finally confront the secrets of her past before they are erased from her memory forever and Hattie to face the hard choices that will determine her future…
Non Pratt’s Trouble meets Thelma and Louise with a touch of Elizabeth is Missing by Emma Healey, Clare Furniss’ remarkable How Not To Disappear is an emotional rollercoaster of a novel that will make you laugh and break your heart.
The way How Not To Disappear weaved (wove?) the stories of Hattie and Gloria was fantastic, so compelling and I love how they kinda sorta mirrored each other a little bit, how Hattie was very similar to the young Gloria, and I kinda liked that Gloria was reluctant to let her Alzheimers take her (although saying that, no one would just let Alzheimers take them) and desperately wanted her story to be told before she couldn’t remember it herself. Boy, was it a story and a half, it was super compelling, very, very sad, and it reminds you yet again that life 50 or 60 years ago was actually pretty terrible, considering how far we’ve come since then (and even then. we still haven’t come far enough, world). It’s quite barbaric the situations that occurred so long ago, when it wasn’t actually that long ago when you really consider it.
But Hattie! Oh, how I loved Hattie. She sort of takes everything in her stride – a new great Aunt she’s never heard of? Well, let’s go on a road trip. Potentially pregnant by the flakiest person in the world? Well, get on with it. She just gets on with it, and very rarely did she let her situation get her down, and she was far, far wiser than her seventeen years. I loved how she just accepted Gloria into her life, how they went on this madcap, but awesome, road-trip, so Gloria could tell her story once and for all, and it was thoroughly enjoyable. Massively emotional, but so, so enjoyable. It’s the kind of story you can imagine happening right in front of you, where you can literally see the scenes unfolding and that’s a really beautiful thing. Especially for someone like me, who doesn’t have the greatest imagination in the world.
How Not To Disappear was such an amazing read. Hattie and Gloria made the perfect road trip team, and Gloria was amazing and Hattie was so brave, and I just loved them both so much. Reuben on the other hand I wanted to smash over the head with a heavy hammer. He very much needed a dose of reality, and a smash on the head might have done that, and he genuinely made me angry, because he might have said he was Hattie’s best friend, but does a best friend really act like that? Er, nope. But apart from the hateful Reuben, this book was outstanding. Clare Furniss is such an amazing writer, she really gets to the heart of the story, and it was such a satisfying story, one you have to really pay attention to, to connect the dots and keep up, but it’s so worth it in the end. I can’t wait to go and read The Year of the Rat, I expect even more good storytelling and an equally fabulous story.